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Mediterranean climate permaculture

 
Lori Ziemba
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Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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Hi,
This is my first post here, so hello to all. I'm in northern California. I'm wondering if there are any books specifically devoted to Mediterranean permaculture? Everything I've read so far relates to either "normal", North American type climte where it's cold in the winter with snow, and warm and humid in the summer, with rain. I'm having trouble translating this to a climate where it doesn't snow in the winter but rains, you can grow something all year round, and all the rain comes in winter and very early spring.

Specifically, I'm interested in how people in Greece, Italy, etc. grew tradtitional crops like olives, grapes, carob, chestnuts, pomegranites, figs without irrigation in the summer. Or did they rely on irrigation? I'm having a hard time imagining they had the resources to irrigate large orchards, vinyards, etc.

Anyone have knowledge of this?
 
Giselle Burningham
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Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
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Hi what is your local temperate span? , I have a property in Tasmania with its weather, it is next to the river and the sea in the north, and it faces North (other way round than the U.S. For heat) so it does not go below 10 deg. (Records are from BOM) so the weather is Unlike the rest of the island. Tassie is currently classed as temperate.. But with global warming the seas around us have already increased by 2 deg C. The original permaculture books are from southern tassie but I too am looking for info for a more Mediterranean climate. I have just planted 15 fruit trees inc figs, pomegranates etc. and other Low chill varieties and I am planning my planting to take consideration that it will get a lot hotter, seasonally drier in summer and wetter in winter and windy. forecast is no longer freezing, which affects the fruiting of trees, which is what I am seeing now! And this info is based on our scientists in the gov dept the CSIRO. They have recently updated a comparison of tassie to moving towards a climate in South Australia next to the desert!!! They actually said that due to these changes fruit will cook on the trees before they are ripe. Based on that a food forest that is layered is really important.... So any suggestions would be great.

I am working on Swales so I can manage my water better. More dams, and variety of plants, I am also looking at Southern Europe for ideas.
 
Burra Maluca
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Those trees do not need irrigation once they are established, only in the first few years when they are getting established. So planting a few more every year would mean that eventually you could have a large orchard without having to water at all.

I haven't found any books on mediterranean permaculture yet, but the people around me are still using very traditional methods of producing food so I apply permaculture principles to what I see around me and produce my own variations.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Yes there is nothing of specific for this climate unfortunately, or maybe its time we started thinking about sharing the traditional tecniques and trying to give them a form of order to keep it as a database. And why not write something down.
I'm collecting documents on olive tree traditional growing tecniques. I know in 2019 there will be the mediterranean permaculture convergence in Matera, Italy, For then I guess we will have the occasion to put something together. Burra it could be the occasion for coming over to Italy, it would be a pleasure to have the Mother Tree as my guest
A part from the trivia, no really we lack a lot of specific studies on single climates. Here these trees weren't watered when first transplanted, nowadays they are for the first years, but now we have plastic tubes and the olive trees are less strong. We have selected the trees for some caractersitics, but not for growing in balance with ecological system.
I have a copy of a book on olive cultivation of 1886 and its interesting to see how they did things in a different way under some aspects. First of all the use of land, nowadays we have barren fields with olive trees that are transplanted very close to each other. Once the distance was at least 5 metres for terraced land with narrow terraces and only in one row, otherwise we could arrive to 8 metres, I fortunately have a very old olive yard and it has a distance even of ten metres or more. All this land is today just tille dtwo times with the tractor, instead once it was used, for forage, for annual crops, it wasn't bare, naked.
Here olive trees grow with asparagus, mints, allium spp., pistacia lentiscus. I think the best thign would be to start to think of how an olive tree can stay in a forest garden. what is the olive tree guild in a polyculture view?
 
Burra Maluca
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Lorenzo Costa wrote: I know in 2019 there will be the mediterranean permaculture convergence in Matera, Italy, For then I guess we will have the occasion to put something together. Burra it could be the occasion for coming over to Italy, it would be a pleasure to have the Mother Tree as my guest


I'll put it in my diary. And maybe I ouught to try to learn some Italian...
 
Lorenzo Costa
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this might interest those in the mediterranean region, not climate sorry. http://permacultureglobal.org/post_projects/5085 the Mediterranean bike Tour
Ignazio Schettini is a very serious person and he's going to leave next year for this travel around the mediterranean to finish then in 2019 with the mediterranaean convergence that I said before. I'll follow the project and give future news on it. I'm in contact with him.
 
Dawn Hoff
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I think our olives are wild rootstock with a manzanilla cultivar grafted on - so I expect that they are planted from seed? When a tree is about to die the farmers around here let one of the wild shoots grow and graft the cultivar onto that. Around here I see old net-pan structures, I can see that my land has been terraced - but it is all eroding. They used to grow wheat (using irrigation) - but the soil is run down and the well dried up... So they moved away... That's 30 years ago, the trees are still here

We are establishing a good forest by planting drought tolerant trees first (almonds, olives, pomegranates, pistacios, carob, figs, chesnut, laurel, oak, mulberry etc etc) repairing the old terraces and net-pan structures - and adding permaculture on top: building soil, mulching (neighbors think we are crazy), maybe swaling - or at least letting the terraces have an inwards inclination, planting nitrogen fixers (again neighbors think we are crazy), only allowing the neighbors goats to graze so much on our land, and controlling how much we let them eat when (crazy again).

There's a TED talk with an engineer from India, who is planting forests there - they take out an area (forgot how small the min. size was) and plant it heavily with young trees: The first year they water heavily, but using a 100% shade cloth, next year they water less using a 50% shade cloth and the year after that the forest can survive on it's own. We are planning to do that in an area behind our house - the idea is that we will establish that, and when it is established we will move on and plant on the boundary of that - in time we will have covered 6 ha with food forest (we hope 😜).
 
Dawn Hoff
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BTW - I think the reason they started irrigation is because they started removing the vegetation underneath the trees to control wildfires (instead of having livestock graze there). Also - you can I crease your yield by irrigating - but it is a bit like wetting your pants to keep warm: I works but only on a very short term. Some places in France you aren't allowed to irrigate wine - because the flavor of the grapes comes from the fact that the roots have to dig so deep to get to the water - all the different layers of mountain, all the different minerals they pick up on the way ads to the complexity of the wine.
 
Burra Maluca
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you can increase your yield by irrigating - but it is a bit like wetting your pants to keep warm


That is the most awesome quote I've read all week!
 
Dawn Hoff
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Burra Maluca wrote:
you can increase your yield by irrigating - but it is a bit like wetting your pants to keep warm


That is the most awesome quote I've read all week!

Thank you
 
Lori Ziemba
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Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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Giselle Burningham wrote:Hi what is your local temperate span? , I have a property in Tasmania with its weather, it is next to the river and the sea in the north, and it faces North (other way round than the U.S. For heat) so it does not go below 10 deg. (Records are from BOM) so the weather is Unlike the rest of the island. Tassie is currently classed as temperate.. But with global warming the seas around us have already increased by 2 deg C. The original permaculture books are from southern tassie but I too am looking for info for a more Mediterranean climate. I have just planted 15 fruit trees inc figs, pomegranates etc. and other Low chill varieties and I am planning my planting to take consideration that it will get a lot hotter, seasonally drier in summer and wetter in winter and windy. forecast is no longer freezing, which affects the fruiting of trees, which is what I am seeing now! And this info is based on our scientists in the gov dept the CSIRO. They have recently updated a comparison of tassie to moving towards a climate in South Australia next to the desert!!! They actually said that due to these changes fruit will cook on the trees before they are ripe. Based on that a food forest that is layered is really important.... So any suggestions would be great.

I am working on Swales so I can manage my water better. More dams, and variety of plants, I am also looking at Southern Europe for ideas.


Right now, I am in San Francisco, which is USDA Zone 10b : 35 to 40 (F), and I am working in a large community garden. My dream is to have some land a bit north of here, which would be zone 9b : 25 to 30 (F). Either place, it never snows, except very occasionally on the tops of the mountains. The climate has changed very markedly in the 30 years I've been here, especially in the past 6 years. It's gotten much warmer and drier, and the USDA actually changed my local zone from 9b to 10b about a year ago. We rarely have frost anymore. I have noticed that most of the young apple trees we planted in the community garden (mostly Fuji) are not doing very well, and haven't really leafed out this spring. We had an incredibly warm, dry winter, and I'm wondering if that is the cause.

Commercial agriculture here is entirely dependent on irrigation. We are well into the 4th year of a severe drought, with a lot of land going fallow. That is why I am wondering if it is possible to grow any tree crops here without irrigation.
 
Lori Ziemba
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Lorenzo Costa wrote:Yes there is nothing of specific for this climate unfortunately, or maybe its time we started thinking about sharing the traditional tecniques and trying to give them a form of order to keep it as a database. And why not write something down.
I'm collecting documents on olive tree traditional growing tecniques. I know in 2019 there will be the mediterranean permaculture convergence in Matera, Italy, For then I guess we will have the occasion to put something together. Burra it could be the occasion for coming over to Italy, it would be a pleasure to have the Mother Tree as my guest
A part from the trivia, no really we lack a lot of specific studies on single climates. Here these trees weren't watered when first transplanted, nowadays they are for the first years, but now we have plastic tubes and the olive trees are less strong. We have selected the trees for some caractersitics, but not for growing in balance with ecological system.
I have a copy of a book on olive cultivation of 1886 and its interesting to see how they did things in a different way under some aspects. First of all the use of land, nowadays we have barren fields with olive trees that are transplanted very close to each other. Once the distance was at least 5 metres for terraced land with narrow terraces and only in one row, otherwise we could arrive to 8 metres, I fortunately have a very old olive yard and it has a distance even of ten metres or more. All this land is today just tille dtwo times with the tractor, instead once it was used, for forage, for annual crops, it wasn't bare, naked.
Here olive trees grow with asparagus, mints, allium spp., pistacia lentiscus. I think the best thign would be to start to think of how an olive tree can stay in a forest garden. what is the olive tree guild in a polyculture view?


This is exactly the kind of info I am interested in---traditional ways to grow these crops. What you are saying makes sense to me. Here in America, the desert indians grew corn, beans and squash by making little mounds with 5-6 corn plants, 3-4 bean stalks, and a squash vine. There was a lot of space between the mounds.

The hardest thing I have trouble with is wrapping my mind around how to go about this with no, (or very little, and just at the start) irrigation. In a good year, we have no rain from June thru October. In a bad year (and that's all we've had lately), we have about half our normal rain, and then nothing at all April thru October. That's 7 months with no rain. Is that how it is in places like Italy and Greece?
 
Alder Burns
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I am a bit north and inland, near Red Bluff, CA; and have been homesteading here for four years. Quite the learning curve for sure. Rainfall is average only 25 inches, winter one time got to 12 F for two nights; but my olive trees survived (and even two citrus....meyer lemon and mandarin, with barrels over them) I've got all the basic mediterranean fruits, except carob which froze out. Mostly I'm keeping them on drip.....I'm 53 years old and I'd like to see yields before I'm compost myself . But the other problem is it's a very heavy dense clay soil and some things have actually gotten too wet I think. My figs really should be up on mounds. Last winter I got a big auger bit for my electric drill and drilled a couple of 2 foot deep holes near each tree, stuffed these with rags and then put an emitter right over this, so as to get moisture to penetrate deeply and not puddle or run off at the surface. The summer before I test-drilled and found the soil bone dry six inches down after irrigating all night! Won't be an issue on sandier or gravelly ground.
My other big project/progress is learning to make use of the native oak acorns, of which there is an abundance in CA. (I think the European oaks bear smaller acorns.....there are some cork and holly oaks planted in town and the acorns are small....the CA oaks get huge acorns!). I've contributed to a thread about this here and also in our blog (udanwest.blogspot.com)....both for my own food and to feed to my chickens. I'm growing winter crops, too....up in and around my young trees.....wheat, barley, fava beans. I want to find a way to efficiently shell dry favas rather than sit around and shell each bean in a green state, as seems popular in Europe. And I'd like to make tempeh of them, too, but so far have failed......
 
Lori Ziemba
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Dawn Hoff wrote:I think our olives are wild rootstock with a manzanilla cultivar grafted on - so I expect that they are planted from seed? When a tree is about to die the farmers around here let one of the wild shoots grow and graft the cultivar onto that.


I am confused. When you say the tree is about to die, do you mean the just the top part (scion)?
 
Lori Ziemba
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Alder Burns wrote:I am a bit north and inland, near Red Bluff, CA; and have been homesteading here for four years. Quite the learning curve for sure. Rainfall is average only 25 inches, winter one time got to 12 F for two nights; but my olive trees survived (and even two citrus....meyer lemon and mandarin, with barrels over them) I've got all the basic mediterranean fruits, except carob which froze out. Mostly I'm keeping them on drip.....I'm 53 years old and I'd like to see yields before I'm compost myself . But the other problem is it's a very heavy dense clay soil and some things have actually gotten too wet I think. My figs really should be up on mounds. Last winter I got a big auger bit for my electric drill and drilled a couple of 2 foot deep holes near each tree, stuffed these with rags and then put an emitter right over this, so as to get moisture to penetrate deeply and not puddle or run off at the surface. The summer before I test-drilled and found the soil bone dry six inches down after irrigating all night! Won't be an issue on sandier or gravelly ground.
My other big project/progress is learning to make use of the native oak acorns, of which there is an abundance in CA. (I think the European oaks bear smaller acorns.....there are some cork and holly oaks planted in town and the acorns are small....the CA oaks get huge acorns!). I've contributed to a thread about this here and also in our blog (udanwest.blogspot.com)....both for my own food and to feed to my chickens. I'm growing winter crops, too....up in and around my young trees.....wheat, barley, fava beans. I want to find a way to efficiently shell dry favas rather than sit around and shell each bean in a green state, as seems popular in Europe. And I'd like to make tempeh of them, too, but so far have failed......


Hello fellow Californian! I didn't know it got so cold up there. I know it is god-awful hot in the summer. You get more rain than we do; that's interesting. I think Frisco only gets about 20" in a good year. Lately, a lot less than that. The soil here in the community garden is almost pure sand. The whole area was build on huge sand dunes after WWII.

Do you have pigs? They do well on acorns. When you feed them to your hens, do you shell them? The acorns, not the hens
 
Dawn Hoff
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Fiesta Cranberry wrote:
Dawn Hoff wrote:I think our olives are wild rootstock with a manzanilla cultivar grafted on - so I expect that they are planted from seed? When a tree is about to die the farmers around here let one of the wild shoots grow and graft the cultivar onto that.


I am confused. When you say the tree is about to die, do you mean the just the top part (scion)?

Actually the stem dies first - becomes hollow and then the tree just sets less and less new branches. The trees around here are a couplr of hundred years old according to my 86 year old neighbor who grew up in this house. So whether they die from old age, solid destruction or lack of maintenance (the wild olives had all but completely grown up around the cultivars) I have no idea. But as I said the trunk dies and only a shell is left.
 
Alder Burns
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The lower rainfall where you are probably will support more vegetation, since the summer is cooler and perhaps also foggy (a lot of plants can absorb moisture directly from the fog). On sand you won't have to worry about drainage issues, but you will have to worry about fertility....adding organic matter is the classic solution. I've had issues with mulch here too.....it seems to quickly become a habitat for large numbers of earwigs, pillbugs and sometimes slugs. And if it's laid on top of drip hose, then rodents chew through the hose!
I have a small electric nutcracker now which helps with the amount of acorns I process daily. They are shelled, pounded, leached, and cooked. A lot of dither, but it fits into my daily chores and I'm not buying any inputs for the hens. I've never been ambitious enough for a pig. We just got two lambs, and I've heard they will eat some acorns too.....
 
Lori Ziemba
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Alder Burns wrote:The lower rainfall where you are probably will support more vegetation, since the summer is cooler and perhaps also foggy (a lot of plants can absorb moisture directly from the fog). On sand you won't have to worry about drainage issues, but you will have to worry about fertility....adding organic matter is the classic solution. I've had issues with mulch here too.....it seems to quickly become a habitat for large numbers of earwigs, pillbugs and sometimes slugs. And if it's laid on top of drip hose, then rodents chew through the hose!
I have a small electric nutcracker now which helps with the amount of acorns I process daily. They are shelled, pounded, leached, and cooked. A lot of dither, but it fits into my daily chores and I'm not buying any inputs for the hens. I've never been ambitious enough for a pig. We just got two lambs, and I've heard they will eat some acorns too.....


I've noticed a lot of earwigs and slugs, too. They get to my alpine strawberries before I can, since the community garden is not that close to my house and I don't go every day. Gardening in SF is pretty weird, because it's cold and dark, but dry, in the summer. It's like another planet. My dream would be to relocate to a few acres outside of Santa Rosa/Sebastapol. It's much warmer and sunnier there.

How do you leach the acorns? Do you feed the hens the processed meal, or the raw acorns?
 
Giselle Burningham
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http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=14095243501&searchurl=x%3D0%26y%3D0%26sts%3Dt%26kn%3DMediterranean+vegetable+gardening

I found a veggie book on ABE books that looks possible for Mediterranean gardening hope it helps.

I am thinking of layers of trees down to veggies using hugleculture Swales to hold moisture and then have trees to provide some shade to the veggies. From what you have all said the climate is either rezoned itself so summer is very dry and winter is too wet. Planning for this , especially for trees that will be at least 20 years old in the future. I need to workout how to future proof my food supply. What ever happens it seems water via drips are essential for the first few years. Then hopefully the trees will tap down to ground water.

All in all I am enjoying this thread re everyone else's observations.. It is helpful thanks. Giselle
 
Lori Ziemba
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Giselle Burningham wrote:http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=14095243501&searchurl=x%3D0%26y%3D0%26sts%3Dt%26kn%3DMediterranean+vegetable+gardening

I found a veggie book on ABE books that looks possible for Mediterranean gardening hope it helps.

I am thinking of layers of trees down to veggies using hugleculture Swales to hold moisture and then have trees to provide some shade to the veggies. From what you have all said the climate is either rezoned itself so summer is very dry and winter is too wet. Planning for this , especially for trees that will be at least 20 years old in the future. I need to workout how to future proof my food supply. What ever happens it seems water via drips are essential for the first few years. Then hopefully the trees will tap down to ground water.

All in all I am enjoying this thread re everyone else's observations.. It is helpful thanks. Giselle


Wow, thanks for the headsup on the book. Regarding climate, the area has always been dry in summer. What's happening is we are now getting dryer and quite a bit warmer in winter, too.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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thanks for the book on abebooks I found this one always on abebooks:
http://www.abebooks.com/products/isbn/9780810956001?cm_sp=rec-_-bdp-_-plp
 
Dawn Hoff
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The winters here aren't "too wet" - actually they are great for third season plantning of all the things you'd normally have in a Northern European veggie garden: Brassicas, slads, carrots, potatoes onions, garlic etc.
 
Giselle Burningham
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My land has a sandy silt top layer 8 inches and then a clay bottom, so in winter the fields are waterlogged. Even though I am on a side of a gentle slope. Not sure what to do.
 
Dawn Hoff
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Ours is cast rock with clay on top... Very steep slope - everything runs off, hardly anything is infiltrated.

The farmers in the valley - who have something like what you describe - plant their avocados on small mounts, we suspect that it it to prevent root rot in the winter.
 
Giselle Burningham
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Fiesta, I looked around for desert planting, as it sounds as though things are going to get drier with climate change for you... I found this company.. Ignore the ads have a look at their tips re your climate. http://blackgold.bz/high-desert-vegetable-gardening/
Giselle

 
Giselle Burningham
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Good idea dawn thanks
 
Giselle Burningham
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Dawn.. A third season Do you get enough daylight hours for the plants? Giselle
 
Dawn Hoff
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I'm thinking that if you use permaculture techniques you can plant trees on mounts and then slowly fill up the trenches between with mulch to hold onto the water later on in the season. I've heard how some people put the irrigation system close to the trees first year and then bit by bit move them into the swales to train the roots to grow that way. Is that in the rainwater harvesting book?
 
Dawn Hoff
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Yes absolutely - on a southern slope. It is in fact in many ways the most productive season because summers are so hot and dry.
 
Giselle Burningham
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Hum I might do some experimenting, I hadn't thought of doing that. Giselle
 
Dawn Hoff
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Do you have frost?
 
Giselle Burningham
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We used to, not any more. !! That's why I am changing the types of plants to cope with the the lack of cold.. Hence low chill varieties for the fruit trees. Giselle
 
Giselle Burningham
Posts: 92
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
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Dawn what is you gardening zone please. http://www.houzz.com/europeZoneFinder

I enclosed a chart to help.. Just so I can understand your climate. Thanks Giselle
 
Giselle Burningham
Posts: 92
Location: Australia, Now zone 10a, costal, sandy, windy and temperate.
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After checking my gardening zones we were 9b we have moved to 10a. Scarey!! Giselle
 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 446
Location: AndalucĂ­a, Spain
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Even if you only have occasional frost it shouldn't be too much of a problem - you can insulate your beds with hay-bales or even put in cold frames. I know people who grow stuff long into the fall in Denmark and kale and brusselsprouts are is still standing around in people's gardens in December/January with snow on them. People cover their gardens with straw or pine branches to keep the frost out of the ground for as long as possible, and have green houses etc. Denmark is about the same altitude as Labrador - same amount of sun, but warmer due to the gulf stream. That is how we Northerners survived without scurvy in the old days. So if you can grow things there well into the fall, you can grow things in the winter in SF
 
Dawn Hoff
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Location: AndalucĂ­a, Spain
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The map says we are zone 10, but we don't have frost (they have a little more indland from us), so more like 10-11
 
Lori Ziemba
Posts: 130
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
books chicken dog forest garden greening the desert urban
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Dawn Hoff wrote:The winters here aren't "too wet" - actually they are great for third season plantning of all the things you'd normally have in a Northern European veggie garden: Brassicas, slads, carrots, potatoes onions, garlic etc.


Same here in California.
 
Lori Ziemba
Posts: 130
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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Giselle Burningham wrote:Fiesta, I looked around for desert planting, as it sounds as though things are going to get drier with climate change for you... I found this company.. Ignore the ads have a look at their tips re your climate. http://blackgold.bz/high-desert-vegetable-gardening/
Giselle



Thanks, Giselle! I do have several desert gardeninng books. I highly recommend both of Brad Lancaster's books about desert permaculture: Rainwater Harvesting. He's located in Tucson, AZ, USA. Tucson is in the Sonoran desert, much hotter anda bit drier than here. SF gets (in a good year) 20" of rain. In drought years, more like 15", all of it in the winter. Tucson, on the other hand, gets around 11" of rain, but they get it all year round due to summer monsoons. So he can have a small, above ground cistern to tide him over between rains. Here, you'd need much bigger earthworks if you needed to irrigate thru the whole summer, which can be up to 7 months long.
 
Lori Ziemba
Posts: 130
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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Dawn Hoff wrote:I'm thinking that if you use permaculture techniques you can plant trees on mounts and then slowly fill up the trenches between with mulch to hold onto the water later on in the season. I've heard how some people put the irrigation system close to the trees first year and then bit by bit move them into the swales to train the roots to grow that way. Is that in the rainwater harvesting book?


Yes, it is very comprehensive. You need both volumes. #1 is sort of an overview, #2 is more technical.
 
Lori Ziemba
Posts: 130
Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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Dawn Hoff wrote:Even if you only have occasional frost it shouldn't be too much of a problem - you can insulate your beds with hay-bales or even put in cold frames. I know people who grow stuff long into the fall in Denmark and kale and brusselsprouts are is still standing around in people's gardens in December/January with snow on them. People cover their gardens with straw or pine branches to keep the frost out of the ground for as long as possible, and have green houses etc. Denmark is about the same altitude as Labrador - same amount of sun, but warmer due to the gulf stream. That is how we Northerners survived without scurvy in the old days. So if you can grow things there well into the fall, you can grow things in the winter in SF


Absolutely! Winter is very productive here. I have plenty of brassicas, parsnips, carrots, lettuce, etc. all winter.
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